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Pompeo says U.S. may never restore WHO funds after cutoff over pandemic

World Apr 24, 2020 01:01AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a press briefing at the State Department in Washington

By David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the COVID-19 pandemic shows the need to overhaul the World Health Organization, warning that Washington may never restore WHO funding and could even work to set up an alternative to the U.N. body instead.

As Pompeo launched fresh attacks on the WHO, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives accused the Trump administration of trying to "scapegoat" the institution to distract from its own handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, they called for the immediate restoration of U.S. funding, which Trump suspended last week after accusing the WHO of being "China-centric" and of promoting China's "disinformation" about the outbreak.

Pompeo told Fox News late on Wednesday there needed to be "a structural fix of the WHO" to correct its "shortcomings."

Asked if he was urging a change in leadership of the WHO, Pompeo replied: "Even more than that, it may be the case that the United States can never return to underwriting, having U.S. taxpayer dollars go to the WHO."

In a radio show interview on Thursday, Pompeo was asked if he saw a time when the role of the WHO might be supplanted by another organization. "We’re going to take a look at exactly that issue," he replied.

"If the institution works and functions, the United States will always lead and be part of it. When it’s not delivering, when in fact it’s failing to get the outcomes that are desired, we’re going to work with partners around the world to deliver a structure, a form, a governance model, that will actually deliver on the intended purposes."

The WHO has denied the Trump administration's charges and China insists it has been transparent and open.

The United States has been the biggest overall donor to the WHO, contributing over $400 million in 2019, roughly 15% of its budget. Senior U.S. officials last week told Reuters Washington could redirect these funds to other aid groups.

On Wednesday, Pompeo said the United States "strongly believed" Beijing had failed to report the outbreak in a timely manner, in breach of WHO rules. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did not use his ability "to go public" when a member state failed to follow those rules, Pompeo added.

"I'm very confident that the Chinese Communist Party will pay a price for what they did here, certainly from the United States. I don't know exactly what form that will take," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News late on Thursday.

"We have to make sure that we don't have this problem yet again coming from China," Pompeo said, adding that the United States had been very direct in making its expectations clear to China.

The acting head of the U.S. Agency for International Development said on Wednesday the United States would assess if the WHO was being run properly and look for alternative partners outside the body.

Any threat to definitively end U.S. funding of the global body would likely hinge on Trump succeeding in his bid for re-election in the November presidential vote against the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The U.S. Congress controls federal spending, and could pass legislation to guarantee funding for the WHO. However, to become law it would need to garner enough support, including from Trump's Republicans, not just to pass but to override a likely veto.

According to a Reuters tally, the coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide, including nearly 48,000 in the United States, making it the worst-hit country by official statistics.

Pompeo says U.S. may never restore WHO funds after cutoff over pandemic
 

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Comments (22)
kate doyle
kate doyle Apr 24, 2020 8:08AM ET
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look up Dr. Rashid Buttar, pretty interesting outlook on Dr. Fauci and WHO predicting this pandemic!! open your eyes people and do your homework. God Bless
kanna kawai
kanna kawai Apr 24, 2020 1:57AM ET
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wow.. you so funny. The man who ignored WHO's advice is your boss.
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 1:57AM ET
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you mean back when WHO said that there was no human to human transmission and you all were calling trump names for baning travel from china? and pelosi and other democrats in NY were encouraging people to go to crowded chinese new year? the communist party of china thanks you for your service
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 1:57AM ET
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they can restore payment once an investigation is complete, and the WHO and/or China repays the trillions wasted on this pandemic that originated from China back when the WHO said the Chinese government found no evidence of human to human transmission
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 24, 2020 1:57AM ET
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and let's make sure the new administration there does not have ties to the communist party of china.... that applies to democrats in the US also
Ludovic Raymond
Ludovic Raymond Apr 24, 2020 1:57AM ET
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And let’s fine every politician/government that makes false and erroneous claims
Eric Peterson
Eric Peterson Apr 23, 2020 10:41PM ET
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20% in NYC probably infected at one point based on antibody tests. let that sink in. the US had one of the WORST covid response in the world. Fox and US leaders learnt for SURE Chinese numbers are fake, WHO lied the entire way to cover China (why would they do that BTW? China paid them far less than the US), and this virus came from the Wuhan lab, at the exact same time USA infections and death toll supass every other nation in the world. coincidence? Before that point, it was all praises for Chinese handling, and high Republican approval polling for WHO
Jason Zou
Jason Zou Apr 23, 2020 10:41PM ET
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You need to check your temperature, the virus hurts brain.
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 23, 2020 10:41PM ET
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you do realize NYC is run by democrats, not fox news
steven gitt
steven gitt Apr 23, 2020 10:41PM ET
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pelosi and other democrat politicians encouraging people to go to chinese new year crowd or you would be racist... oh wait you all conveniently like to forget about that
Gamer Turtle
GamerTurtle Apr 23, 2020 10:34PM ET
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may never? that sounds like dictatorship to me, maybe pompeo would like that. if it was any other republican in charge, they wouldn't have tried to shift the attention such a way and to a degree as to cut off funds to WHO. next republican or Democrats will likely restore the funding easily.
Ludovic Raymond
Ludovic Raymond Apr 23, 2020 10:34PM ET
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Maybe our dear secretary of state thinks he or his boss are invicible and would rule forever to claim something like that
Jack AAA
Jack_A Apr 23, 2020 10:10PM ET
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nobody cares. US is exiting every organization it established.
James Marshall
James Marshall Apr 23, 2020 9:35PM ET
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goodbye WHO
maga king
maga king Apr 23, 2020 9:12PM ET
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ditch all international organizations! why waste time and money on other countries?
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Apr 23, 2020 9:02PM ET
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GOOD! We need to start a new international organization with morals and integrity! China can keep it!
Jack AAA
Jack_A Apr 23, 2020 9:02PM ET
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sure, we have "moral authority"
Buzzy Jefferson
Buzzy Jefferson Apr 23, 2020 9:02PM ET
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Jack AAA   - Comparatively? YES. 1000%
Albino Gil
Albino Gil Apr 23, 2020 8:32PM ET
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I think the US should withdraw from the UN and the United Just One Nation of the United States sole member an only one in charge organization
 
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